UARS Update: NASA Refines Crashing Satellite’s Debris Region and Location

Article written: 22 Sep , 2011
Updated: 14 Jan , 2016

This video from Analytical Graphics, Inc. shows an updated animated analysis of the break-up of the the 6-ton, bus-sized UARS satellite. It likely will burn up at an altitude between 80-45 kilometers, with an estimated 26 pieces of debris re-entering the atmosphere for land fall or splash down. The debris zone is predicted to be about 500 miles long.

The latest update put out by NASA on the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is that as of 1:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 21, 2011, (17:30 GMT) the orbit of UARS was 120 mi by 130 mi (190 km by 205 km). Re-entry is expected sometime during the afternoon of Sept. 23, Eastern Daylight Time. NASA says the satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period, but that it is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any more certainty. They will be able to further refine more details in the next 24 to 48 hours.

AGI has created an app for Android phones where you can track the UARS orbit track. See this link for more info.

Sources: NASA, AGI

Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.


9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says

    We launch them, you receive them. Do you think that NASA may be working with the CIA to bring down heavenly retribution to hellish dictators? Perhaps we can do much more with the return path of a satellite than we let on. So far most returning space junk has missed the US. This one will most likely miss us too. This re-entry will generate a lot of potential dictator-killer pieces. NASA may also then stand for Nail All Slimy Arabs.

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Folks,

    Apart from noticing that UARS will not be returning to the US of A, would it be possible for UT Universe Today) to give the re entry times in UT (Universal Time). It makes life easier for the rest of the world.

    Brian – Roseland Observatory – UK

  3. Anonymous says


  4. “NASA says the satellite will not be passing over North America during that time period”, oh that’s good. For North America.

  5. Rich Wagner says

    UARS Update #4: 24 SEP 2011 @ 04:04 UTC ± 3 hours

Comments are closed.